With the final stages of the US Open 2016 now upon us, the quarter-finals are now set to get underway. Some unseeded players have managed to pull out all the stops to progress to the later stages of the tournament, among them France’s Lucas Pouille,who drew Rafael Nadal to a mammoth five-setter before taking eventual victory.
He is one of three French players in the quarter-finals here at the US Open, and now will play compatriot Gael Monfils for a semi-final spot.
Here’s a look at the quarter-finals for today:
Novak Djokovic vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
This promises to be a big one. After his first-round victory over Jerzy Janowicz of Poland and being taken to four sets, Djokovic had a fair bit of rest; his Round 2 opponent, Jiri Vesely, pulled out ahead of the pair’s match with injury.
Due next to play Mikhail Youzhny, Djokovic led the former top-10 player 4-2 in the first set when an injured Youzhny was unable to continue.
He took a simple victory over Briton Kyle Edmund next, but Djokovic has not looked in top form lately. The Serb, who won his maiden French Open title this year following victory at the Australian Open, has been unable to sustain that momentum since. He was taxed by both Kei Nishikori and Andy Murray this year with the latter even taking a title off him.
Djokovic admitted earlier this year that although his wrist had been giving him pain, he was going through significant personal upheaval that had affected his gameplay. Although he has had wins here, the victories have not been the characteristic victories the Serb has come to be known for.
At tonight’s quarter-final, however, the ball looks to be firmly in Djokovic’s court. The Serb leads his French rival 15-6 in the pair’s head to head. The most recent match between the pair was played at Indian Wells this year – also on outdoor hard courts,with Djokovic winning in straight sets – although taken to tiebreaks by Tsonga in each set.
The two also played at the Finals of the Shanghai Masters in 2015, with Djokovic taking a 6-4, 6-2 win.
The Frenchman has been successful against Djokovic on indoor hard courts, but the last time he beat the Serb was in 2014. To add to this, Tsonga also dropped a set against Australia’s James Duckworth, and was taxed by American Jack Sock en route to the quarter-finals – not the most conducive to a win here.
Tsonga is yet to finish past the quarter-finals at the US Open – a feat he has achieved for the third time this year. He also had a quarter-final finish last year, losing to Marin Cilic in five hard-fought sets at the 2015 Open.
Djokovic, as the defending champion, has already won two titles here, giving him the firm advantage. That said, if Tsonga can leverage his rival’s lull in form, he could well pull off an upset.